Ostensibly a tale of two cities - Old and New Delhi - India's capital actually encompasses many more, including both ancient and more modern metropoli subsequently subsumed by the so-called National Capital Territory. Peeling back the layers of Delhi, a place inhabited since the 6th Century BC, is a fascinating exercise in understanding the sub-continent's history in microcosm, and we believe visitors to India ignore Delhi at their peril. In many ways this is a city every bit as manic (in a good way) as Mumbai and as cool as Kolkata, and home to some of the finest architecture - both Mughal and
Raj era - restaurants and hotels anywhere in the country.
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The city's first must-see is the magnificent monument to the Mughal Empire that is the Red Fort, built as the impregnable residence of the emperors after Delhi had, over the centuries, been sacked more times than a Premier League manager. As the Mughals declined the fortress eventually became a barracks for British troops, but today still stands testament to the impressive Mughal gift for architecture. The perfectly proportioned (and recently restored) Humayun's Tomb, built to house the 16th century Emperor's mortal remains, is another superb example of the elegance of Mughal-Persian design.
Across in New Delhi, British architect Edwin Lutyens's vision of a colonial cityscape remains his masterpiece, with supreme symmetry aligning the India Gate memorial to the country's war dead with the Rashtrapati Bhavan or President's Residence.
All of these attractions can be visited using Delhi's spanking new metro system, but in a way that would be to miss out on some of the essence of the Delhi experience - to hail a tuk-tuk and find yourself deep in the winding lanes of the old city, to watch the traffic buzzing along the elegant Rajpath in New Delhi, or to wander along the Yamuna River. This is how to experience the capital of a country that's going to have an ever bigger say in the world in the century to come.